While Game of Thrones has done a pretty good job of distilling the epic novels into easy-to-digest serialized television, there are some moments the showrunners can't include but are incredibly important to understanding the characters. Good thing there are a bunch of multi-talented nerds out there who have read the books and who can draw really well. The following are artistic interpretations of 14 scenes you should see if you want to defend your claim to the Iron Throne of GoT Trivia and reserve your right to lecture your friends about Westeros history as you watch this Season 6.
Here is Young Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger) with the Tully sisters, Catelyn and Lysa. Catelyn would go on to marry Eddard Stark and become Catelyn Stark, but Petry maintains that Catelyn, his childhood friend, was the only woman he ever loved.
Brandon Stark, Ned's older brother, was first engaged to Catelyn before he was killed by the Mad King. He "defended Catelyn's honor" in a duel against Petyr Baelish in which he would have killed Littlefinger if Catelyn didn't intervene and spare Petyr's life.
The Lannister matriarch, Joanna, speaks to her twins, Cersei and Jaime, about the impending arrival of their little brother, Tyrion. She would die in childbirth.
This is the Elia Martell and her son with Prince Rhaegar, Rhaeney. These are the people Oberyn Martell fought and died for because Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, murdered them.
Prince Rhaegar was the son of the Mad King, King Aerys Targaryen the II, and the eldest brother of Daenerys Targaryen. It was his infidelity and his irresponsible actions that led to Robert's Rebellion or the War of the Usurper, all of which occurred before the TV show begins.
Prince Rhaegar took Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark's sister, away from her betrothed, Robert Baratheon. It is unclear whether Lyanna went willingly or not.
In the books, Ned is haunted by dreams of his deceased sister saying "Promise me, Ned." Fans are desperate to know what Ned promised his sister before she died. Many believe Ned agreed to take her newborn son, whom many theorize is Jon Snow, and raise him as her own. She wouldn't want Ned to reveal Jon's true identity because people would try to kill the Targaryen/Stark child who was the clear heir to the Iron throne.
This a different take on the same scene from above, but even sadder as we see Ned mourning his dying sister.
Ever wonder why Brienne and other characters call Jaime Kingslayer? If you were too distracted by his pecs in the hot tub to pay attention to what he said, here's the quick recap: as a member of the Kingsguard, Jaime was supposed to protect King Aerys Targaryen II. However, when the Robert's Rebellion started, Jaime changed allegiances and stabbed the Mad King in the back (literally), which many considered dishonorable.
Two stirring portraits of the Targaryen men at the center of the War of the Usurper.
Nine years before the beginning of Game of Thrones, the Greyjoy tried to rebel against Robert Baratheon. When the uprising was crushed, Ned Stark took Theon Greyjoy from his family as a hostage to insure no more conflict. This shows Ned Stark returning from the conflict with Theon Greyjoy in tow and being greeted by his wife and children.
Coldhands is a character from the books that the TV show has no introduced. He helps Samwell and Gilly return to the Night's Watch, and he guides Bran and his companions to the cave of the three-eyed raven. He rides an elk and commands a group of ravens. He is a mysterious figure who won't show his face. He wears the black uniform of the Night's Watch, but his hands are dark and cold, and the other characters figure out that he's dead.
An important plot that has been excluded from the TV show is Lady Stoneheart, reanimated Catelyn Stark who seeks revenge for her slayed family members.
In the books, Sansa and Sandor's relationship is more developed and, frankly, more romantic. One night, Sandor goes into Sansa's room, holds a knife to her throat and asks her to sing for him. She feels blood and tears on his face. Later, she remembers kissing him, but many think Sansa imagined this.